1 Corinthians 3:5-7 - What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So, neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.
This devotion pairs with this weekend's Lutheran Hour sermon, which can be found at lutheranhour.org.
The Hollywood Walk of Fame features stars set in the sidewalk to commemorate famous people. We call celebrities "stars" because they shine. And they attract, sometimes dramatically. Burt Reynolds, the actor, tells a story about an adoring fan of his. The woman so badly wanted to meet him that she mailed herself to him. She had herself shipped to him in box. The actor was out of town when the container arrived. The poor woman had to claw herself out of the packing crate she'd delivered herself in. She never met Burt Reynolds. She had to settle for adoring his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Celebrity promises to meet one of our deepest needs: the desire to be known. To be a celebrity is to be celebrated-celebrated by many more people than you could ever know, celebrated by more people than you could ever celebrate in return. We celebrate our celebrities, but do we know them? Celebrity gives the illusion of intimacy, but not the real thing. To know someone personally, you have to be close to them, to experience their good days and their bad ones. The woman who delivered herself to the actor thought she knew him. But it was an illusion she had created for herself.
Some people who bemoan our celebrity culture long for the old days. But were the old days any different? Modern mass media has changed our expectations for knowing others and being known by them. But our core human problem is the same. We expect humans to give us what we need-whether we're delivering ourselves to a celebrity in a crate or asking for a selfie with them, whether we're looking to fans and friends for recognition or looking to ourselves for fulfillment, the problem is the same.
The ancient Corinthians had their own celebrity culture. As their community was coming together, they started getting sucked into divisions. One group said, "I follow Paul," the famous guy who founded their community. Another group said, "I follow Apollos," a local celebrity whose star had risen since Paul had left. So, Paul, in his letter, reminds them that no human being can meet their need, but only God, their Creator. Human beings can't give us what we need because human beings, in relation to God, aren't givers. We're receivers. Only God is true Giver. At our best, we can re-gift. We can pass on God's gifts.
God's Son, the Giver of all gifts, came down to meet our deepest need. He had himself delivered to us in a human container, in human form. He was delivered up to be crucified, and He rose from the dead so that we could know that we are known by the only One who counts. Jesus turned celebrity on its head. Celebrity personas are "known" by more people than they could ever know in return. But Jesus already knows everyone intimately and can be known by them. He has Himself delivered to you again and again in His Word so that you could know Him, so that He could be known by you. And He is with you so that others can know Him through you. You and I are His stars, gathered together in constellation, shining for the One who created us.
WE PRAY: Jesus, take our longing for celebrity and give us intimacy with You and others. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Rev. Dr. Michael Zeigler, Speaker of The Lutheran Hour.
1. Ask someone in a younger generation about their favorite celebrities. How many did you know?
2. Fifty years ago, the artist Andy Warhol supposedly said, "In the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." What do you think this means? What does it say about our culture?
3. Read Psalm 31. Note how the psalmist is in anguish over being "forgotten like one who is dead." Why does it comfort him to be "known" and "seen" by God? How does this comfort you?
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"